Take a Walk!
Get out of your seat. Push away from your desk. Put down the phone and...yes, stop hitting those keys on your phone or your computer. I know. It is comfortable behind all that technology. It is all too easy to just send communications out and see where it lands later. It is easy to just leave a message either via text, email or via a phone message. It is easy to research, compile statistics and send reports via the internet often on deaf ears. Agents respond to email inquiries with text messages. Brokers send attachments to their agents blackberries giving them a pep-talk and sales statistics.
Success, especially today, depends on face-to-face interaction between human beings. Trust is built by our relationships. And, relationships are built upon communications. True communications is a complex interaction of the spoken word, non-verbal cues of expression, active listening and a true exchange of ideas. Often, it takes many face-to-face interactions in order for the basis of communications and understanding to take place. Often, people do not say or write what they mean. Not because they are trying to hide their wants or needs...it is because they may not know what they want or they may not understand what they really need. Agents may not have scratched the surface of understanding of what the buyer or seller objectives really are.
In the 1940's, Dave Packard of Hewlett Packard, coined a management technique called, "management by walking around or mbwa." Ahead of it's time, this technique encourage executives to get out of their offices and cubicles into the workplace environment. This easy to do technique enable face-to-face communications including active listening, personal involvement and setting the organization goals --- together --- which ultimately ended up with business success. This personal involvement shed titles and managment levels, walls were literally removed from offices and true two way employee engagement took hold.
What does this mean for real estate brokers and agents?
1. Visit as many listings as possible.
It means you need to get out of your home or office. You need to interact with the marketplace in order to succeed. You need to see as many homes for sale as you possibly can --- not view the pictures on the net. You should see them up front, inside and outside. Towns differ, streets differ and homes differ. You need to experience the differences in order to communicate them to your buyers and you need to understand what is on the market in order to list homes effectively. Brokers and office managers so they can look beyond the statistics.
2. Brokers need to get in the trenches.
Brokers and managers should answer the phones when people call. What are people reading in the ads that are placed? Are the ads and media vehicles effective? Brokers and managers need to sit amongst the agents to understand --- what their real point of view may be. Brokers and managers need to visit homes and tour homes for sale. They should go on listing presentations from time to time.
3. Agents need to meet with their buyers and sellers regularly.
This is beyond the weekly call report or email. This should be a regularly scheduled meeting --- so that agents can hear, first hand, what the sellers needs are. In the case of a buyer --- if you are not with a buyer in person on a regular basis. They are not an "A" buyer and they may be visiting other agents and/or brokers.
4. Reduce Office Meetings.
This seems to fly in the face of the MBWA principle but...if you look at the format, weekly staff meetings are not effective. Management talking at agents with managements agenda --- is not particularly engaging. Weekly meetings should be in small groups with a specific goal or agenda in mind. They should be targeted at the level of the agent --- top producer vs new agent, for example. Group staff meetings could be held monthly to bring everyone together BUT even these meetings should have an agenda driven my the participants, not the other way around.
5. Walk the Walk.
Brokers and managers need to get in and around their agents. They should have an open door policy and they should, on a regular basis, sit where the agents sit. They should walk where the agents walk. Leading by example is by far the most powerful tool a leader has in her toolkit. Understanding where the calls are coming from by actually answering the phone --- give remarkable insight to the market.
Believe it or not... I am a technology fan but.... we have lost sight of personal, face-to-face talk time. It has become far to easy to just send out one way communications in the form of texts and emails --- without taking the time to talk with another person AND more importantly --- to LISTEN. Take time out. Make that call. Visit --- in person. Your business will take a remarkable turn for the better.